By Joey Gibbs
Over the years, award shows have lost the once-prominent momentum and interest. Performances are lackluster, speeches are trivial and the gilded glamour has been viciously scratched away. With the subtlety now exposed, the shows go on without a hitch, rendering a bitter feeling of pretending everything is alright.
Here I am now with my good old opinions and highlights from the 2021 Oscars. On Sunday, April 25, juggling between the Dolby Theater and Union Stations and drowned in the copious scent of hand sanitizer, the star-studded 93rd Academy Awards ran with a host who knew to countdown on time. I chose to watch it for you so you could spend time eating or breathing. The pandemic pushed the event two months later than normal, and most of its star quality felt dystopian — a vignette of a post pandemic world. The idea of movie theaters is foreign and dreamlike, and here we are celebrating contemporary art when all of us have been binging old favorites.
Zendaya in particular looked stunning on the red carpet, as she strutted into the Academy Awards with a gorgeous yellow couture gown. She made Jimmy Choo look like Jimmy Who? And did I mention the gown glows in the dark? Watching Zendaya’s mass victories while staying humble is heartwarming, and I wonder back to the time when reporter Giuliana Rancic made racially insensitive comments about her hair in 2015. Nothing brings Zendaya down; it seems like everything she does has beauty. Furthermore, seeing her joy, along with many other successful and influential women of color, was refreshing and stunning. While racism permeates both clandestine and out in the open in the entertainment industry, the ceremony did make its historical marks.
Chloé Zhao, in her elegant beige, became the first woman of color to win the award for Best Director, and the second woman overall to win. Zhao showed nothing but heartfelt gratitude for her victory, even after dominating awards with “Nomadland” before.
Yuh-Jung Youn stole the show, truly, becoming the first Korean actress to win Best Supporting Role in the tender film “Minari.” Seeing this sweet older woman gushing over Brad Pitt presenting her award was not only charming but had this welcoming sense of humanity to it, too. Her adoration, she maintains, is healthy, as when she was asked by an interviewer how Brad Pitt smells, the 73-year-old responded, “I didn’t smell him. I’m not a dog.” Some questions about her award or her career would have definitely been more appropriate.
If I said I knew about a live action Pinocchio movie, my nose would grow. The mystery around the movie can be summed up, according to how Twitter user Angelique River puts it, as a reverse Mandela effect, where it did actually happen and we all pretend it did not. The movie is definitely a visual feast — a true CGI wonderland. I wonder, what would come of the movie if it was not released at the worst possible time to release a movie? Would it have been a cult classic? Would it parallel the praise of Pan’s Labyrinth?
Daniel Kaluuya definitely deserved Best Actor for his performance in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” but did his mom deserve the insatiable embarrassment? He brought a smile to everyone’s face as we not only listened to his him talk about his parents sexual relations, but watched his mom react alongside him. Screenwriters Keith and Kenny Lucas, colloquially known as the Lucas Brothers, were thrilled that their work on the original screenplay for “Judas and the Black Messiah” was nominated. As Jersey natives, this victory hits close to our community.
I, along with Anthony Hopkins himself, was shocked he won Best Actor. The order was already weird because Best Actor never goes last, but that just took some digesting. Moreover, Hopkins was not expecting it so much that he stayed home in Wales, not even providing anything virtual to accept the award. And just like that, the show was done. Fans and I alike were indignant about Chadwick Boseman’s snub for his incredible and captivating performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” I thought he had it in the bag and another well-deserved tribute for the influential actor. But, it felt like nothing happened. Hopkins saved face by posting a short and meaningful tribute to Boseman while making a point that he really did not expect to win. The flames are still rampant on social media, and honestly, it is the way it should be.
The 93rd Academy Awards was a bittersweet mix of fantasy and reality. It simultaneously made history and fell on its face, but I do believe that it fulfilled its purpose. The Oscars are getting better, and like our hurt community, it is recuperating. In these hard times, these representational victories can inspire and motivate those who are downtrodden. The show gave us an escape, although an imperfect one, but we are so tired that we will take anything we can get.